Any business that is considered a “place of public accommodation” is required to provide equal access to services under the nondiscrimination requirements of Title III of ADA. When you look at the guidelines closely, this includes hotels, entertainment venues, legal and accounting firms, retail stores, and virtually every business that is not a private club, including businesses that exist solely on the web.
Government Code §11546.7 – The requirement that state agency heads certify, every two years, that their agency’s website meets the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Version 2.0 or a subsequent version, at Level AA or higher, and the requirements of Sections 11135 and 7405 of the Government Code. Created by AB 434 (Baker, Chapter 780, Statutes of 2017), and sometimes referred to as AB 434.
HiSoftware Compliance Sherrif Web, offered through HiSoftware Inc., is a platform that monitors and helps to enforce web accessibility guidelines on public web sites and portals and intranets. This program enables organizations to easily validate and watch content on their sites, checking them for compliance contrary to standards-based (WCAG, Section 508) and custom policies for accessibility.
The program generates reports of web accessibility evaluation results and automatically checks single web pages, groups of web pages or web sites and restricted or password protected sites. Supported formats include CSS, HTML, and XHTML. It’s an online service, both hosted service and server installation, and licenses are commercial and enterprise.
That’s good news if you are one of the many Americans who have a visual, hearing, or mobility disability that makes it difficult to access some information on the web. If you are a business owner who hasn’t made provisions to ensure that your website and other online assets are ADA compliant, you could be looking at a host of legal and financial penalties.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, if the government entities receive federal funding, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 generally require that state and local governments provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services, or activities unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of their programs, services, or activities or would impose an undue burden.2 One way to help meet these requirements is to ensure that government websites have accessible features for people with disabilities, using the simple steps described in this document. An agency with an inaccessible website may also meet its legal obligations by providing an alternative accessible way for citizens to use the programs or services, such as a staffed telephone information line. These alternatives, however, are unlikely to provide an equal degree of access in terms of hours of operation and the range of options and programs available.
The large number of people who have disabilities, coupled with the challenges that they face, is one of the reasons that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990.² As its name suggests, the ADA is designed to protect individuals with disabilities in the United States. The ADA essentially makes it illegal for any government entity or business to provide goods and services to the general public without ensuring that the entities are accessible by people with disabilities. In today’s digitally driven world, many businesses fail to follow web accessibility best practices. In fact, this is why the Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SANPRM) was created by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). To ensure that they are implementing digital accessibility best practices, organizations are encouraged to use the WCAG 2.1 technical requirements.³
Furthermore, website compliance checkers cannot possibly identify every single barrier on a website that is in violation of the ADA. Some accessibility problems can only be found with thorough manual testing. Others can only be discovered through functional testing – people who have disabilities and/or use assistive technologies such as screen readers that systematically try out core website functions, such as filling out forms. If these kinds of testing aren’t carried out, it is likely that very significant barriers could go unnoticed, and the website would still not be compliant with the ADA.
The program assists by presenting reports of evaluation results, and it automatically checks single web pages, groups of web pages or web sites, as well as password protected or restricted pages. Supported formats include CSS, HTML, XHTML, PDF documents, and Images. Platforms supported include both Mac OS X and Windows. The program uses inside and outside firewalls, including intranets and development sites. Licenses are commercial, but users/developers can test the program on a trial or demo basis.
The ADA statute identifies who is a person with a disability, who has obligations under the ADA, general non-discrimination requirements and other basic obligations. It delegates fleshing out those obligations to federal agencies. The agencies issue regulations and design standards. The regulations have the details on the rights of people with disabilities and responsibilities of employers, state and local governments, transportation providers, businesses and non-profit organizations. The design standards specify how many entrances need to be accessible, how many toilet rooms and the design for those elements. To know what the ADA requires, you need to read the law, regulations and design standards.
MAGENTA is a web-based accessibility tool developed by the Human Interface in Information Systems (HIIS) Laboratory within the Human Computer Interaction Group. In addition to the WCAG 1.0 guidelines it evaluates the accessibility of websites according to their conformance to guidelines for the visually impaired and guidelines included in the Stanca Act.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) established the main international standards and accessibility for the World Wide Web. The WCAG is created by the W3C to provide a standard for web content accessibility that can be shared around the world. The WCAG is meant to accompany organizations as a sort of blueprint on how to make their websites ADA compliant.
Thus, if there are barriers preventing a customer with a disability from doing business in a place of public accommodation, those barriers must be removed (as long as it’s not a great hardship to do so) in order to comply with the ADA. Barriers could be physical, such as a display rack that is out of reach. They could be in the form of discriminatory policies, like a “no animals allowed” rule that excludes people with guide dogs and other service animals. Barriers could also be digital, such as a public website or app that is not accessible to people with certain disabilities.
Hey OB – Disclaimer – none of this is legal advice and you’d want to check with a lawyer to know if you’re at risk for any action if you’re not ADA compliant. Based on what we’ve seen if you don’t have a physical retail or service location, and you don’t receive any funding from the government you likely aren’t required to have a website that would be considered compliant. Some people expect that to change in the next few years, but that’s what we know for now. Let us know if you have more questions or would like to test your site.
As I mentioned above, under each WCAG 2.1 principle is a list of guidelines, and under each guideline are compliance standards, with techniques and failure examples at each level. Some guidelines include only Level A items; others include items for multiple levels of conformance, building from A to AAA. At each stage, you can easily see what more you would need to do to reach Level AA or AAA. In this way, many websites include elements at multiple levels of accessibility.
DYNO Mapper is a sitemap generator that checks the web accessibility of websites and online applications. DYNO Mapper includes content inventory and audit, as well as daily keyword tracking. Results are displayed within visual sitemaps to allow for easy and efficient project discovery and planning. Version 1.0 was released on December 1, 2014. Version 2.0 was released on May 22, 2018, and included a Visual Accessibility Tester that shows issues visually in your browser. Version 3.0 was released on March 12, 2019, with Authentication capability for testing private websites and online applications as well as monitoring and notifications. Guidelines covered include WCAG 2.1 — W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1, WCAG 2.0 — W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, WCAG 1.0 W—3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, Section 508, U.S. federal procurement standards, Stanca Act, BITV, Italian accessibility legislation, and German government standards. The program assists by automatically checking groups of pages or sites, including those that are restricted or password protected, and generating reports of assessment results. Supported formats include CSS, HTML, and XHTML. Licenses are available for individuals, organizations, or enterprise.
In an August 2016 case involving the University of California Berkeley, the DOJ ruled that the public university was in violation of ADA Title II (similar to Title III but it instead applies to government organizations) because their YouTube channel’s videos didn’t include captions for hearing impaired visitors. The DOJ found this to violate the ADA as deaf users did not have equal access to the online content.
Without a definitive ruling, there is room for a difference of opinion. That’s exactly what happened in 2015 in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Netflix is not subject to Title III of the ADA because it has no physical place of business. This opinion was unpublished, meaning it is not intended to be considered legal precedent, but it certainly makes it confusing for businesses that are not sure where they stand under the ADA.
For example, you may have thousands of images on your website that need to be checked for the presence of “alt text,” which is a requirement under WCAG 2.0. This is a task for automated testing software, which can perform the job much faster than any human. While automated tools can detect if the images on your website have alt text, however, they aren’t able to determine whether the text is correct and meaningful—which is a job for human testers.
It isn’t a problem by default, a lot of it comes down to how it is built. I’d suggest either considering a highly accessible contingency option, or build those components in such a way that there is a level of accessibility baked into it. If you need help with that testing or review email us at questions at yokoco.com and we’ll be able to let you know the cost for us to lend a hand.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enforces regulations covering telecommunication services. Title IV of the ADA covers telephone and television access for people with hearing and speech disabilities. It requires telephone and Internet companies to provide a nationwide system of telecommunications relay services that allow people with hearing and speech disabilities to communicate over the telephone.
The A11Y Compliance Platform is offered through the Bureau of Internet Accessibility. The platform gives tools, reports and services to help companies and organizations maintain and defend the web site’s accessibility and integrity. The standards and guidelines that are used in this platform include Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Section 508 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). How it works is each client is assigned a dedicated Client Manager who oversees their site. This manager takes on all aspects of the project, and this includes identifying the client’s specific needs and ensuring that milestones are met during the Audit. They offer dedicated attention to the company and serve as the experts who can help navigate them through the complex requirements. The most recent version, Version 5, Release 3.4 was released in November 2013. The platform generates reports of evaluation results, and the offered managers will help go through these results in a step-by-step fashion. The platform will automatically check single web pages as well as groups of web pages or websites. This is a web-based, online, hosted service, and licensing is available for commercial and enterprise. Supported formats include CSS, HTML, XHTML, SVG, PDF, Images, and SMIL.
You can use the online WAVE tool by entering a web page address (URL) in the field above. WAVE Firefox and Chrome extensions are available for testing accessibility directly within your web browser - handy for checking password protected, locally stored, or highly dynamic pages. We also have a WAVE Runner service, subscription WAVE API and a stand-alone WAVE API for easily collecting data on many pages. If you need enterprise-level reporting and tracking of accessibility, WAVE powers the Pope Tech accessibility tool.